Year 2017

Another year is about to go. Time flies. Isn’t that an often-heard of refrain? As I made a mental list of my highs and lows this year, I realized there really was just one low: the fur son crossing the rainbow bridge. The rest must make me a very lucky girl. Correction: blessed.

Year 2017 gratitude list:

1 Good health. No hospital visit except the one where the doctor would declare you fit to work another year.
2 Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Crackdown on corruption, economy looking up, Duterte is the best thing that ever happened to the Philippines.
3 Friends who ring in the night to say they are bored with Bangkok and therefore would be flying to Zurich. I am officially amused.
4 Home nothing beats flying home, seeing familiar faces, eating home-cooked meals and all that
5 Asik-Asik an enchanting curtain waterfall; another one off the bucket

6 Mozart my love, you will always be in my heart.
7 CJ the biological son is back with me. Oh, the real time bonding!
8 Milestone that board room meeting where the execom strategized our exit; separation pay, recommendation to other universities permeated the air. But perhaps more than I realize I’m ready to jump ship.

9 Thai-Cambodge Border. A huge market, casinos and the immigration police sorting out my entry and exit for a fee was some experience
10 Back to blogging re-learning a hobby is a good use of free time
11 Finances dividends and savings here we go
12 Church I can’t believe I am attending again but I am and it’s not bad

13 Piano it took me forever to buy one that is perfect for my post-divorce home, but finally…. Waking up in the morning and heading straight to the keys to serenade my nook has been sheer joy.

Hope your 2017 was great. Here’s looking forward to 2018. Happy holidays!

ABC Wednesday / Thursday 13

Xmas Gastronomy

What do you think of “Xmas?”

The “X” stands for the Greek letter “Chi,” which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός, which in English is “Christ”. The “-mas” part is from the Latin-derived Old English word for Mass.

So there. That should also serve as my own reference as soon as I forget what in the spirit of the holiday season does it mean. I normally do not spell Christmas “Xmas” even if it means saving space or economizing characters in a text message. That is the reason why I only remember why Christmas is sometimes spelled Xmas only when I read why or because it happens to be that time, the “most wonderful time of the year.”

The powers that be: Immigration Department & Labor Ministry. Between them is a liaison office staff girl who daydreams in the job a bit too much. Hanging on the line is my holiday plan.

In the course of two decades I celebrated Christmas with family and friends only three times. Some of the other Xmases I have been either alone or alone for a couple of those years and nursing a broken heart to boot. But I love Christmas a.k.a. Xmas so much that celebrating without the company of other beautiful humans over the years never made a difference in the way I respond to it. It apparently also helps that I love food and use it to celebrate whether things are up or down.

Less than twelve hours ago there was a conflict between my visa and my work permit. A threat more like to be honest. Some staff girl in the liaison office unfortunately mixed up numbers on important documents, but as soon as it became clear that the problem was going to be sorted, as most problems are anyway, I started imagining all the treats I was going to get my hands on.

Where is that latest Michelin star restaurant in town? Which cafe has the best red velvet cake? Which recipe should I tinker with next? Book a table in that palace-turned-garden restaurant….

Xmas Gastronomy. These are some of what’s been happening so far in my little corner – 

1 Vegetarian potluck solution. I didn’t know these things could be tricky. Ideas everywhere but not a dish to bring. Finally I rang a bakery.

Vanilla chiffon, S&P Restaurant

2 This should hopefully be the last meatloaf of the year. When I hit 40 I began refraining from meat

Beef with mango strips, broccoli, cauliflower, bitter melon, roasted potato, steamed carrot and shrimp

3 Maybe a little rough around the edges, but very yummy. It looks like banana cake and tastes like yema (candy made from condensed milk)

Maja Blanca

4 – 5  Some days I put things together myself

(4) Peanut butter and guava jelly toast sandwich, bitter melon with egg, wild tomatoes and seedless grapes, minced spring onion with butter (5) Capsicum salad with seaweed paper and lemon grass juice

6 – 7  Rice dishes; the tamarind sauce (lower photo) is to die for

Above: steamed string beans and carrot sticks, catfish chips, shrimp and salted egg  (S&P) Below: fried mackerel, squash patties, cucumber, gourd, tamarind sauce (JJ food court)

8 – 9  Vegetarian dishes

(Left) Kebab – cherry tomato, cucumber and pickled mango (Right) Afritada

10 – 13  A little sugar rush. Chocolate with the red velvet is divine. Purple macaroon has a lavender scent while the red one is rose

(Above) red velvet & chocolate, rainbow macaroons, Landmark Hotel Restaurant (Below) strawberry and durian ice cream on chocolate waffle, iBerry; mix-berry mousse, Cafe D’ Oro

ABC Wednesday / Thursday Thirteen

Warabi mochi

Warabi mochi with matcha ice cream and red bean paste, Yayoi Restaurant, BKK

I am fond of Japanese food; the main dishes at least. It was not until I had enough time to be curious that I got acquainted with a dessert called warabi mochi. The names are strange to me. Here are some of what I learned from reading around about it:

1 Warabi mochi is a Japanese confection made by dissolving sugar and the starch from warabi bracken in water, letting it set into a jellylike mixture and dusting it with kinako
2 Warabi bracken is an edible fern
3 Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made of mochigone
4 Mochigone is a short-grain japonica glutinous rice
5 Kinako is roasted whole soy flour
6 Mochitsuke is a ceremony in which warabi mochi is traditionally made
7 Katakuriko is potato starch used as substitute for bracken starch
8 Here’s an easy warabi mochi recipe
9 Variations with sesame and green tea dips are popular
10 Ichinoseki in Japan is known as the mochi mecca
11 Mochi can last a year if frozen; a couple of weeks if refrigerated
12 Mochi is served in different festivities in Japan especially the New Year
13 With its consistently gooey chunks, mochi is a choking hazard. Use caution while enjoying these sticky treats

ABC Wednesday / Thursday 13


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Spinal column: the one thing vertebrates have in common that is easy to remember long after other bits and pieces are forgotten and new vertebrates may be discovered by science.

Helping the son do his science homework last night which included several pages on vertebrates, not only gave me an idea for this week’s post, it also brought back a few memories. That Biology exam I perfected in ninth grade, fancying becoming a medical doctor, falling in love with RJ, the town doctor’s son and dating him briefly (can’t blame myself – those red roses, as red as that vertebrate on the above photo, love letters and cards he sent while away in medschool were just lovely), RJ himself becoming a surgeon later and chatting me up live on Facebook recently to explain things while he was removing my son’s ruptured appendix….

Did RJ bend his spine while performing laparoscopic appendectomy on a fellow vertebrate? I wonder.

Apparently I did one morning in Laos while playing with another vertebrate, Malcolm Red. I named him after my own pet Malcolm Black, who gilled his last years ago. Next to humans, fish are some of my favorite vertebrates. They are fascinating in literature, animation and movies.

1 James Pond a fish in a video game based on a James Bond styled fish
2 Freddie Fish in the Freddie Fish Series
3 Cleo a goldfish owned by the word carver Gepetto in Pinocchio
4 Dory a palette surgeonfish in Finding Nemo
5 Flounder a tropical fish, Ariel’s sidekick in The Little Mermaid
6 Mrs Puff a pufferfish in Spongebob Squarepants
7 Edward Bloom in the Big Fish
8 The Crested Basketfish in Astonishing Animals by Tim Flannery
9 Swimmy a blackfish in Swimmy by Leo Lionni
10 Ikaroa a longfish in Maori mythology
11 Namazu a giant catfish that causes earthquakes in Japanese mythology
12 Oscar a bluestreak cleaner wrasse in Shark Tale
13 Inspector Gill an anthropomorphic fish in the Fishwrap Comics

ABC Wednesday / Thursday 13